INTERVIEW
ISA
GRASSANO

People

TRAVELLING WITH YOUR GIRLFRIENDS AND OTHERS: HOW GETAWAYS CAN MAKE YOU A HAPPIER PERSON.
  
Isa Grassano is the woman of the moment: she is a successful journalist, writer and blogger from Italy. She was born in Basilicata and lives in Bologna, but still has a Lucania-oriented vision of life! She travels the world as a travel writer, publishing her articles in magazines like Viaggi di Repubblica, Viaggi del Gusto, Marco Polo, Venerdì di Repubblica and on her blog amichesiparte.com. She is also a gossip columnist. She has won several journalism awards and runs training courses. What’s her secret? The optimism of the mad and the stubbornness of a mule. She is a busy woman, but managed to take time out to talk to us.

  
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– You were born in Basilicata, your adopted home is Bologna, but you are really a citizen of the world. How did you become so passionate about travelling?
  
I’ve always wanted to discover new things, maybe because as a child I used to read a lot and so I travelled in my mind. I remember reading The Diary of Anne Frank. Her story really stroke a chord with me and I wrote in my diary, because I had one too, that one day when I was older, I would go to Amsterdam to visit the house of this Jewish girl who had so many dreams. It was such a thrill when I eventually went there. I’m curious by nature and I get bored when I stay in the same place or visit the same place twice.
  
– You often write about girl-only holidays, in fact you have a “pink blog” “amiche si parte”. What is your take on girls travelling together? What can girlfriends expect when they go on holiday together?
  
“Our girlfriends are our soulmates and guys are just people to have fun with”. This quote by Carrie in Sex and the City is famous and it is so true, because there is an understanding between girlfriends that you just don’t get with the man of your dreams. Going on holiday with your girlfriends is a sharing experience, right from the very beginning when you are packing your bags (I’ll take the hair straighteners, you take the hairdryer), there is the exhilaration of getting lost in the markets, the joy of shopping, chatting for hours and hours. You need to get away from it all and organise a holiday with your girlfriends at least twice, if not three or four times, a year. Even if it’s just a weekend, you go home feeling reinvigorated and happier, you love your partner more, your kids seem better behaved and even your boss becomes the best person in the world.
  
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– Women often go away on their own, so how do they normally choose their destination?
  
If Christopher Columbus had been a woman, he would have set out a lot earlier than he did. This is the conclusion I have come to over the years on my travels to the different corners of the globe. Women have a greater spirit of adventure at any age. How do they choose where to go? Through magazines, word of mouth or maybe they have read a novel set in a certain place and can’t wait to go and explore it for themselves. The important thing is that the place is safe, so they can visit it without worries.
  
– Tell us about the greatest adventure you have had with your girlfriends, which you have written about in your books.
  
It was a short but emotion-fuelled getaway: we rode through the dunes of the Sahara in Tunisia on quad bikes, a sea of golden waves that rippled into the distance and the deafening silence of nothing stretched out before us. The only thing you could “hear” were our emotions, they were so intense it was almost as if you could see and hear them. The fascinating Berber people mingle with the magic and mystery of the immense spaces and reconcile the world.
  
– You have a wide range of interests and are a tireless traveller. Your latest book “Forse non tutti sanno che in Italia” (Newton Compton) has just come out. What hidden treasures does Italy hold for us?
  
The hidden treasure is Italy itself because it is “beautiful, like no other”, as it says in the introduction to my book which I based on the lyrics of one of Mino Reitano’s most famous songs, “Italia” (we all know the chorus “Italy, Italy! There’s nowhere more beautiful or quite like it”) which was presented at the Sanremo festival in 1988. Every region has something unusual, curious and mysterious to offer, alongside all the usual famous tourist attractions You just have to know where to look, even close to home, without necessarily going far, how to observe and lose yourself. So, as you wander through the pages of my book, you will discover there is a Spielberg of Irpinia in Montefusco (Avellino) or that in Cefalù, Sicily, there is a portrait of a man who has the same enigmatic smile as the Mona Lisa. Then there is a list of places with free entrance. Places always seem more worthwhile when you don’t have to pay to get in.
  
– Of all the places you have visited in Italy, which surprised you the most and holds a special place in your heart?
  
Matera, the 2019 Capital of Culture and my home town. Every time I go back there, I am moved. Noel Clarasó i Serrat wrote “travelling only serves to show us how much we love the place where we were born”. A real must-see is Casa Noha near the cathedral. It’s not a space to visit but a place that prepares for your visit to the town. It takes you on an innovative multimedia journey where you can explore the history of the “Invisible stones” (a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993) and you immediately realise their importance. Then there are the Lucane Dolomites and Castelmezzano, a small town that looks like it has been cut out of a piece of paper with a pair of scissors, it is so beautiful, a place where the Knights Templar also left their mark.
  
– Which three adjectives would you use to describe Italy?
  
Stunning, welcoming and generous.
  
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